Urban farm project to begin this month

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Vacant lots in the northeast quadrant of the city of Rochester are ready to be transformed into an urban farm. The effort is part of an expansion of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County’s South Lawn project.

South Lawn, at 2449 St. Paul Boulevard, began in 2022 to address food insecurity, support workforce development and foster community resilience, officials say. The space was also used by Growing Relevant and Outstanding Work Skills participants. A workforce development program, GROWS targets at-risk young adults and helps them overcome barriers to employment, develop skills, and learn more about horticulture and agriculture.

Now, work on the Remington Street Farm–35 cinder-block raised beds across five vacant lots–will begin April 24. The lots are on the block between Ketchum and Morrill streets. The project has received support from the Avangrid Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Rochester Gas and Electric parent Avangrid. Volunteers from RG&E and Avangrid, community members and program participants will assemble to create a foundation for a sustainable urban agriculture project.

CCE Monroe officials expect the project to have immediate impact. Free Seed to Supper classes will be held at the Lincoln Branch Library, a block from the farm, on Monday afternoons from 4:30 to 6, starting May 15. Led by Master Gardeners, these classes offer five weeks of hands-on training and classroom instruction for community members interested in growing their own food. (Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who work in partnership with CCE Monroe.)

CCE Monroe’s South Lawn project converted a vacant lot into an urban farm. (Photo: CCE Monroe)

Community farmers will have space to grow their food at Remington Street Farm and access support from CCE Monroe through the season. Additional produce will be donated to food pantries while classes on cooking, nutrition and food preservation will be held at the People’s Pantry at the Lincoln Branch Library.

The project underscores the importance of collaboration to address critical issues facing our environment and food system, CCE Monroe says. Its goal is to ensure access to fresh, healthy food for every Rochesterian.

In its Rochester 2034 plan, the city has expressed the importance of community gardens. One of its goals is to “support urban agriculture as a valid reuse option for vacant land and vacant buildings.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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